EV/EVO Chronicles: Smith Part 2: of Piratesbane Part 2

Greg awoke with a jolt. The small cell was pitch black but he knew someone was there.

"Awake, huh?"

Across from him, a large shadow shifted in its resting place, on the cell's second bed.

"Houge," Greg croaked.

The massive man leaned forward until the dim light leaking into the cell illuminated his face. Brilliant red hair and beard framed the Wild Geese mercenary's face. His wide lips were spread in a wide smile. His eyes, however, remained hard.

"You know...they provide food and water here. You just have to be awake to receive it." He tossed a bottle of cold water towards Greg's bed. Greg's arm whipped out and snapped it from the air. He sat up slowly and vehemently twisted off the bottles top.

"You know Greg," Michaleen Houge continued, "you made a real friend of that Fed captain. Most people just get a hefty fine for unlicensed weapons. You'll be in here for another forty eight hours."

Greg grunted non-communicably. He sipped from the bottle carefully, letting the swollen tissues in his mouth sop up the water slowly. Already his stomach was growling. But not once did he look the big man in the eyes.

"You know, it might not be so bad for you to be in here Greg. You picked a rather bad group of pirates to atomize. The Lightning pilot happened to be Count Drako's brother. Hell, he already had a bone to pick with you as it was."
Greg's eyes slowly blinked then he looked up at Michaleen. For a long moment he simply stared, his eyes both dull and sharp at once. Then he lowered his head again.

"It doesn't matter who it was. They're dead."

"That may be," Michaleen said, lowering himself back into the cot on which he sat, "But oft times the dead ones have living ones who do care. Drako is not the type to let someone kill his brother. Do you know why they call him count? No? Its because Drako has one of four Pirate Carriers ever built and he is damn good with it. Even the Feddies tend to stay clear. Word on the street is Drako is coming for you next. He knows you're here. He has spies everywhere and they are all looking at you."

"Why do you care Houge? I left the Wild Geese, remember." Greg finished his water and tossed the bottle into the dark end of the cell. It clunked quietly, the only sound in a now silent cell.

"I care Laddie, ain't that enough. Me an' Eric, we never understood why ya' left. But we accepted it. But if you think tha' by leavin' you ain't a Wild Geese, then ya bein' a fool." As he spoke, Houge's Irish accent became more and more pronounced. He had sat back up and was watching his fists clench and unclench.

"You're a part a tha' family now, an ya always will be. Ya hurt a good many folk leaving us but none a us didn't accept it. But if you try ta deny us na', well you'd be a fool. We can help ye'."

"I don't need help!" Greg rose from his bed, his hands clenched at his side. He turned and swung at the offending wall, aiming for the dull red spot barely visible in the half-light. Michaleen moved quickly and caught his arm. Against Greg's struggles he easily pulled the wounded hand over to him and inspected it.

"Does hurtin' yourself make it any easier? Does ya physical pain hide the mental pain? Or maybe the alcohol helps? Have you found a way to forget yet? I havn't. Everyone's been in the ****e Boy. What matters is if ya pull yourself out again."

Greg wrenched his arm from Houge's grasp and turned to face him.

"Why are you here."

"Unless you run, you'll be fighting Drako soon. As much as we would love to help ya kill 'im, our treaty with the pirates won't let us touch 'im. That doesn't mean we can't put a bounty on his head. 1 million for takin' him down. Five hundred now, five hundred after. You'd do well to take it. The Feddies melted your ship down for scrap just recently. Your AI is in impound too, so I imagine you'll want to get it too." Michaleen's accent had again disappeared. It always did when speaking business. "If you don't take it now, it goes out on the open market. There's plenty of fools who would risk the beating just for a shot at Count Draco."

"I'll take it. But it's 1 million now, not after."



"Michaleen smiled slowly and then broke into a grin. "All right Boy, it's all yours. Course you'll have to finish the job now but maybe there be a reason you're called Piratesbane."

"Once. Not anymore. Get me out of here and I'll do your job."

"Aye, Lad, I imagine you will."

The Ship Yard:

From the outside, the shipyard of Earth's orbiting Kane Band was unimpressive. The massive construction of gray metals and transparent aluminum paled in comparison to the Earth below. From the inside, the band was beyond compare. Massive shipyards throughout held half finished hulks to newly commissioned ship hulls. In the distance, one could view the construction of a Leviathan freighter, its signature round cargo bays slowly rotating even now. Not much further off in the distance, a Federation Carrier was nearing completion. Only its powerful engines remained to be added. And around both, thousands of tiny lights hinted at further work, further wonders. It was an awe-inspiring experience. One needs only to look up.

But Gregory Smith never looked up. He walked and walked through the long band area. When finally he reached his destination, the Earth below had begun to enter its night cycle.

Not his Earth.

Greg shook his head and moved from the small window he watched the foreign planet from. Ahead, a bright sign proclaimed small-to-mid-sized ship sales. Pictures of Vipers, Valkyries and Starbridges were plastered all about.

"Hello Friend," smiled the clerk as Greg walked slowly in. "How may I help you?" The man's eyes passed over Greg, sizing him up. The deep black stubble on Greg's face appeared razor sharp and it contrasted badly with his dirty blond hair. Though not young, Greg's 35 years rode easily on his face, leaving only a hint of lining. He was dressed in a long black overcoat that hung easily on his slight frame. Even so he moved with a supple grace that spoke of incredible agility and strength. But the years of drinking and solitude had forever marked his eyes. They bore through the clerk with a cold impunity. Against his will the man slowly lowered his smile and looked away.

"Are...are you here to look at our selection?" he asked shakily.

Greg nodded simply and walked over to a nearby terminal without a word. There he remained for the next four hours, as people came and went. The clerk, with every hour growing more aloof, finally walked over and queried, "Are you almost ready? We will be closing down in only a few more minutes."

"Lot 233856."

"233856? The Starbridge? Wonderful. If you could just show me the color of your money..."

Greg handed over a thin credit chip and then stood. Again the clerk was forced back by the man's dark presence.

"Let me just run this..."

The clerk retreated to his desk and stuck the chip into his own terminal.

"Everything checks out. When will you want to pick the ship up?"


"So express purchase. This will only take a moment. However we can get one thing out of the way right now. What will you name it?"

"The Hopeless."

The clerk paused above his keyboard then quickly typed in the name.

"We'll have that painted on and registered when you pick...it up. Report to docking bay 28 in about an hour and all will be ready."

The clerk looked up, ready to shake the hand of the new owner. He just saw the hem of Greg's black trench coat as it whisked through the door.

Greg's return trip led him through the duskier side of the Kane band where half lit and dying illuminants cast vague and shifting shadows. Furtive figures moved about, slinking quietly by without a glance or nod. Not that Greg paid them any more attention than he received.

As he passed a dark alley a few loud catcalls erupted from its depth.

"Hey Mister! Haven't you heard black is last season?" offered a first voice.

Another quickly chimed in. "Yah and trench coats are last millennia!" Raucous laughter poured from the alley then the sounds of figures rising. Through it all, Greg walked slowly on, paying no heed.

From the alley six figures emerged as if by magic. All were young and carried the features of being young in the Kane Band. That meant piecing, hair dye and holo tattoos. They swaggered after Greg's retreating figure, still hurling jokes and boasts after him. Then three ran forward and imposed themselves in front of him, smiling widely.

"Hey buddy, can't you see we're talking to you?" sneered one small bald punk. He glanced at his two friends then produced a knife. "We don't like to be ignored."

Greg slowed to a stop and looked at the gang for the first time, his slow gaze taking in everything. Another punk had caught up and was behind him. He too had produced a weapon of one sort or another. All leered at him, their gapped teeth and split lips most obvious.

"Now then pal, if I got your attention?" the apparent leader said, waving his blade menacingly.


"What!? Hey pal, you're the one in trouble here..."

If the kid intended to say anything else, he never got the chance. Greg's right hand snapped out and locked onto his knife arm. With a hard twist he faced it back towards the punk's chest. Then he stepped forward and drove the blade hilt deep into the other chest. Thick, viscous blood welled around the blade and gurgles of air from a pierced lung oozed out. Shock was written on every face but Greg's.

Greg stepped back and let the dead kid fall to the ground. His friends stared at the lifeless corpse for a long second then shifted to looking at Greg. He smiled tightly and winked at the punk behind him.

A brawny blond screamed and swung at Greg with his spiked bat, throwing his body into it. Greg leaned back and let the bat fly by then slammed forward, hitting the blond hard in the gut. The third punk from the front group, a greasy red head, moved in, punching at Greg with spiked gloves. Greg batted it aside with his left hand as he wrapped his right up over the blonde's shoulders and around his beefy neck. Off balance, Red stumbled forward out of range while Blond tried to shake Greg loose. Greg tightened his grip and kicked Blonde's legs out from under him forcing him to his knees. Then Greg rotated his wrist over and back, releasing the long bladed dirk from its sheathe in his sleeve. Without hesitation he buried the blade in Blondes back, cutting the spinal cord. He released the slack body and turned, waiting for the next attack.
Having lost two of their number so quickly, the rest of the punks looked less excited to fight. But Red was almost foaming with anger and he raced forward again, swinging the bladed gloves. Greg dodged around the first two swings and caught the third. Yanking hard he pulled Red forward and by him, twisting the arm as the other passed. His right leg shot out, catching Red in the knees. As he started to fall, Greg grabbed his head and chin. His violent jerk snapped the other neck; the popping was loud and wet. He smiled down and watched the life drain from the punk's eyes.

"You're gonna die mother ****er!"

Greg turned and saw that the forth punk had produced a laser and was aiming for him. He lifted a hand as if to protect himself, making the other hesitate. It gave Greg just enough time to grab tight to Red's lapel and hurl the body. The stunned gunman accepted the body full force and fell. Greg swaggered forward again and picked up the dropped laser. Without pause he lazed off the last puck's lower right leg and then, dropping the gun, walked off with the punk's screams following him into the night.

Flames. There were always flames. And smoke. And the painful, all encompassing light that haunted his every breath. The light that beamed through the tiny window, burning his eyes deeply. But Greg couldn't look away, even when the light pierced his deepest mind. The Dire Wolf...he had to see it. It had to be there. But there was only the light. And then he was falling. Falling so far down to the pits of hell below. The light suffused his entire being, setting his cells afire with its glow. He screamed and screamed and tore at his body but the light remained, always there inside. Only when the pain became unbearable did the cool escape of unconsciousness fall upon him.


"Status report," Greg mumbled, rolling to the floor of his new room. He blinked rapidly, trying to rid his vision of the spots that always came after the dream. He rose and stumbled forward.


Properly re-aligned Greg shambled into the refresher. The computer AI activated the shower, hot enough for a thin steam to form in the air. Greg dunked himself into the spray, letting the hot water chase away the last wisps of sleep. He looked down to find himself still in his boxers, now sopping wet.

"What's the status?" he asked again.

We are approaching the New Primus system. As ordered, we will exit with maximum velocity. The probe released by Michaleen Houge has been transmitting data of ship movements since leaving the Sol system. A ship massing that of a Pirate Carrier is present. It sits well outside the system periphery. A small number of Federation ships are also present but remain well outside attack range.

"Draco isn't worth what he'd cost. Where will we be entering in relation to the Carrier?"

Present calculations place us within several thousand kilometers. Well within heavy weapon range.

"Time to arrival?"

Fifty minutes.

"Lock us in. And get a channel set up for Drako. He'll want to verbally spar first."

Greg exited the shower and dried off. After donning a flight suit he opened his locker and pulled out the combat armor within. With practiced ease he hooked in on, taking limited comfort in the ritual. Then he reached further in and pulled out his weapon. His hands found the grip of his assault rifle without a thought, grasping it easily. As a final act, he pulled out the black ceramic scarab that held his most precious property. With a thin whisper he pulled the katana blade slowly out, watching the dim light of the room gleam upon the polished surface of the edge. There he stood, locked with the blade in hand until the computer warning shook him into action. He sheathed it with a harsh rasp and headed to the command deck.

"So you came back. I should have never doubted the Wild Geese at their word. They, above all others, still cling to the ideals of honor. That I can respect."

Count Draco was an impressive figure, massing almost a hundred kilos. His frame was so thickly muscled that even at rest, his body bulged greatly. His face was wide and handsome, a well-kept beard framing his powerful jaw. But his eyes were cold, emotionless. They stared across space, seeking, and found a pair of eyes equally cold.

Greg watched the large man watch him. His gaze was deathly steady, boring into the other man. Their gaze was eternally locked, the depth of their eyes as deep and dark as space itself.

"For honor, I do this, Smith. I see you are a kindred spirit. Indeed, you are more. A soul brother. We have both seen and caused pain no human should ever experience. A pain we experience endlessly."

Greg nodded simply, for no words could suffice.

"But I lost a blood brother. Justice must be served. May he of greatest honor and skill succeed."

The channel cut off suddenly and remained quiet.

The Pirate Carrier turned ponderously and lit it engines, burning slowly away from the planet Port Arthur. Far behind, a tiny Starbridge followed. Still further behind, a flotilla of Federation ships and civilian traffic flocked around the planet's gravity well, their sensors questing after the leaving ships, thirsting.

Suddenly the Pirate ship stopped and rotated. Two Pirate Vipers and a Lightning dropped from its fighter bays. The ships formed up and dove towards the following Starbridge. The 'Bridge started to dance, weaving back and forth elusively. But the three fighters bored in. Fire began to flicker out from the onrushing fighters, crossing space to beat on the other ships shields. Return fire was almost non-existent, only a few weak bolts.

"One, target is giving a no-show on weapon complement. Must have a sensor masker."

In the Lightning, the lead pilot smiled and growled, "Starbridge or no, he ain't got nothin' big. Keep on 'im."

The two groups rushed ever faster at one another. The Starbridge's shields now glowed steadily under the assault of the three pirates. Still, return fire was light.

"What's he doin'," queried the second pilot. The range was falling quickly and still the ship refused to juke. "Is he thinkin' to ram?"

"I don't know but I don't like it," returned the other Viper pilot. "We should break off."

"Negative," answered the leader. "If he wants to play chicken, we'll oblige."

The Lightning pilot watched the other ship closed rapidly. It's flight path perfectly intersected his own. Then the other ship shifted slightly upwards, bringing its nose high.

"So he ain't so brave," crowed the leader, smiling. He only noticed the other object at the last moment.

The rising Starbridge finally revealed the ion torpedo it had released and masked until now. The weapon hit perfectly in the middle of the formation of pirate fighters, lighting off its disabling warhead. The racing Starbridge passed ahead, riding the blue shockwave. Behind it, the three fighters flew on, their engines cold and dead.

"My lord, our fighters have been disabled. He apparently used a ion torpedo. But he is coming for us now rather than turning to finish them."

"A skillful attack, masking the torpedo like that. But it won't work again. Have our Quad Anti-Missile turrets double manned. Nothing must get through. When the Starbridge is in range, begin a prepatory missile barrage. And keep our nose to him, I want the 150s and 200s to have a clear shot."

"Yes, my Lord."

Greg's lips pulled back into a feral grin as he wove his ship among the streams of missiles coming towards him. Deep in the ships bowels he could hear the groan of its frame as he slammed inertial G-force into it. His body too complained at the misuse it was receiving but he ignored it as he ignored the ship. All that mattered was the Pirate Carrier.

"The Starbridge has entered range of our Rail Guns my Lord."

"Good," Draco said, rising and crossing his hands behind him. "Give him a full barrage, see how he takes it."

In the nose of the massive Carrier heavy doors slowly rolled open to reveal powerful Rail Guns. The magnetically charged rails themselves glowed a static blue as they built a primary charge. The release of it was an awesome sight. Heavy nickel iron pellets lifted from below and were placed between the two rails. For a moment it remained still until a much smaller magnet below inched it forward. With a massive crack, the shell hit the magnetic field and accelerated it to .65% of the speed of light in milliseconds. As it left the rail, its speed was such that even in the emptiness of space, enough particles found it to halo it in a blue stream of burning material.

Greg acted quickly, hooking into a slow right roll. The heavy rounds from the pirate ship whipped past close enough to scorch the Starbridge with its burning tail.

"Target evaded and is still coming."

Count Drako furrowed his brow. Most pilots of smaller ships sought to use their advantages, entering the rear ark of a larger ship. Some preferred to stay just inside missile range and test their weapons against the other's defenses. No pilot he had yet fought flew into the forward arc at high speed, especially when the larger ship had mass weapons. Any speed of the target would increase the damage done by the impacts, sometimes causing a single shot to penetrate.
"He is up to something. Begin firing our Medium turrets. Keep him back if you can."

"Sir, the target is coming straight on. Our computer tracks him as hitting in our bridge section if he continues."

"What? Begin standard maneuvers, shake him off."

The Pirate Carrier began to shift, rotating and turning to escape the smaller ship. The Starbridge mimicked it perfectly.

"He's still coming!" the sensor tech yelled, letting his anxiety get the better of him. Draco glared at him but felt his own stomach tremble.

"Hit him with the rail guns, break his course!"

The Starbridge was close now; close enough to be seen easily from the bridge windows. Its forward shields were a dull red as the medium turrets pounded them. But somehow the shields held, vainly protecting their charge. That is until the first 200mm pellet hit.

The heavy shell smashed into the ship, hitting the shields with a jolt. In cascades of energy, the ravaged screen broke, leaving the Starbridge naked to fire. A following 150mm shell smacked into the ship's belly, furrowing the heavy armor and tearing away an Infer Red Baffler. The sweeps of turret fire struck the ships wing, burning runnels in its surface and locking its atmospheric elevators in place. But still the ship came on, now riding its afterburners to full speed. In the final moment before impact, a 200mm pellet hit its left wing, smashing powerfully into it. The ship's path changed slightly, just enough.

The impact was titanic. Much like the rail gun shells, the Starbridge was moving at a significant portion of the speed of light. Unlike the pellets, it massed in the hundreds of tons. When it hit, even the virgin shields of the Pirate Carrier were as paper to it. It tore through with only the slightest slowing and hit just aft of the main crew area. Its impact sheered away the two engines there, ripping them effortlessly from their housings. The impact itself pummeled the nearby crew area and split its heavy walls open. Surprised pirates fell from the hole, twirling into space with tons of debris. The brutalized ship groaned then was still. In the distance, the unrecognizable hulk of the Starbridge spun slowly into the distance.

Greg kicked hard, smashing open the hatch of his escape pod. As he climbed from it, he shivered uncontrollably. To be stuck in one again, even for only seconds was almost unbearable. But it had served his purpose perfectly. He looked around at the dark docking bay of the Carrier, saw the figures of pirates sprawled about like marionettes with their strings torn. Some moved weakly but most simply lay still.


Still online Commander.

"Your run was perfect. What about pick-up?"

Damage is extreme. Unable to comply.

"Thats what I expected. Thanks Computer."

Greg walked forward, towards the nearby door. As he approached, a woman started to rise, waving towards him. Greg shifted slightly and shot her down with a burst from his rifle. She slumped back, still again. Turning, Greg pulled the secondary trigger and sent a grenade flying into the door ahead. It impacted and exploded, pelting him with shards of metal and plastic. But Greg remained unmoved. When the explosion subsided, the door could be seen, hanging loosely on its hinges. Purposefully, Greg strode onwards.

"Damage report," demanded Draco as he rose to his feet. Around him the ship burned, smoke billowing from shattered consoles and stations. Most of the bridge crew was moving again, though slowly. Many, however, would never move again.

"To be brought low in but a moments time, that is a true fall," Drako whispered as he moved to help his sensor tech to stand. The man's eyes suddenly widened, his mouth opening to say something. Instead, a bloody red mark appeared on his forehead, followed by a spray of blood from the other side. Drako turned in surprise. A man in armor and enclosing helmet stood, a rifle in hand and a sword strapped across his back. He fired again, killing a rising pirate. And he kept firing, until only Drako remained, surrounded by his dead crew.


The armored man nodded slowly.

"What have you done?! You have already won! Why kill my men?! What honor is there in this?"

The other was silent, watching.

"You struck them down like a coward! They couldn't even fight back! What monster are you? Have you no honor!"

"Honor," Greg said simply, "is for the foolish and the dead. You're a fool Drako. Soon you'll be dead."

Drako laughed maniacally, falling to the floor. His laughter turned to wheezes as he began to cough.

"You're a fool and a dead man too Smith! Your attack destroyed our life support. Your precious armor won't have enough oxygen to save you! And I won't let you escape!"

Drako dove to the nearby panel and slammed down a control. A series of hollow thumps vibrated through the ship as the numerous remaining life pods were ejected. Drako fell back to the floor laughing even harder now. Greg remained as he had, unmoved.

"So what now Smith! How are you going to escape! You'll die! Die like a DOG!"

Greg lowered his gun, letting the strap fall from his shoulder. It hit with a dull clatter.


Drako looked up, his eyes terrified.

"I'm ready to die. Are you?"

The sword left it's sheath with a harsh rasp, gleaming in the light of the smoldering fires. Drako began to shake his head in denial but Greg walked forward slowly, the sword held high.

"Are you?"

Flames. There were always flames. Darkness and light dueled for control, ripping at each other like rabid enemies. Then the light rose to a crescendo, smothering the darkness. It rose and rose and finally it encompassed all. But in its moment of triumph, the darkness returned and the light was gone.
Greg lay curled upon the floor of the escape pod, tears streaming from his eyes uncontrollably. He whimpered helplessly, holding himself and rocking unceasingly. His mumbles where incoherent but for one name.


Above him the radio crackled as it always did, its static his emotionless companion and tormenter. Two weeks had passed, during which Greg only ate or drank when his body demanded it. Mostly, he cried.



"...I repshzzkkzxt...in the escvsszt...respond!"


"I repeat, if there's anshzzzvvk...escape pod, please respsxhzzk..."


"Damn it, if your alive in there you'd best answer or you'll be floating for the next few millennia!"


"**** it, we're coming so hang on."

Greg moaned quietly then curled himself tighter. The tiny pod rattled slightly before the door opened. Then four strong arms carried Greg from the pod.


"Your in the NSO 1065-02 system pal. Right on the edge of old Vell-Os territory. Don't know how you got here cause there ain't a ship for light years."


"Yah, don't worry 'cause we're headin' for Federation territory now. You'll remember that I bet."


"No, it's called the Federation. Where did you come from?"

Greg opened his mouth but nothing came out. His lips moved slowly, forming words no one could hear.

Not from here. I'm not from here.


Greg stood up in startlment, looking around. He expected to see the bridge of the burning Carrier, the floor he had fallen to as his oxygen ran slowly out. But the space around him was empty, cool space for as far as he could see.
Is this death...?

"No. This is a dream, beloved."

Greg spun and saw Sarah appear from the air, falling to touch lightly to the floor.


She ran to him and threw herself into his arms, holding him tightly. He wrapped his surprised arms around her, burying his face in her thick hair, smelling its perfume.


Pain echoed in Sarah's voice, making Greg break the hold. He looked at her, seeing for the first time the tears in her eyes.


"Why are you torturing yourself Greg? Why do you hold on to the pain so tightly? Why are you mocking my sacrifice?"

"No...never...I...I...can't live without you Sarah. What is life if I can't spend it with you?"

Sarah pushed him away from her and turned.

"You selfish bastard. You've taken my gift and you've turned it to a punishment. I love you Greg. I love your love of life! I love your refusal to give up even when things are pointlessly cruel. But to destroy that because of me, that is something more than painful Greg. It's killing me...again."
Greg reached for her but she deftly avoided his hands.

"Now listen close Piratesbane! I didn't die to let you ruin your life. I have expectations of you when we meet again."

Greg watched startled as Sarah put a hand on her hip and waggled a finger in his face. Kinda cute, Greg thought.

"When you come back, you will be happy. You will be sober...or at least mostly. You will be in shape because fat men are gross! And most of all, you had better think about bringing another woman because...well...I always wanted to try that whole thing."

Greg laughed, his first genuine laugh in six years. Sarah also laughed and came close again, taking his head in her hands.

"Greg, most of all, I want you to live." Her tone had grown serious and her eyes were alight with an inner fire. "Stop this self-sacrifice and live. Its time to end the torment."

She kissed him deeply. A tear, cool and perfectly formed, fell from her cheek and wet their lips. A second fell, though from a different eye.

"See," Sarah said, breaking the kiss," that's healthy! Just not in public."

"I've a long ways to go before I can be normal again Sarah."

"Doesn't matter. You'll find a way. And about the other woman...well..."

Greg pressed a finger to her lips, cutting off what she was about to say.

"I know...a blond, right?" His eyes lit with laughter.

The next kiss lasted forever. Slowly, a light of pure white began to glow about them.

Time to go.
I won't fail you...Sarah.

"Welcome back Greg."


Greg opened his eyes slowly, groaning slightly as pain shot through his muscles. He looked over towards the voice, seeing the giant man sitting in a chair. Near a bed.

"I'm in a hospital."

"Yes...you are. You suffered a pretty serious case of oxygen deprivation. You'll have sore muscles for some time to come from the lactic acid. No brain damage though...at least not more."

Greg rubbed his eyes and sat up. His back complained but then subsided.

"What about Drako?"

"No one knows for sure. You were the only thing left alive on the Carrier when we got there. The only thing left period, in fact."

Greg looked up, seeing the hurt and suspicion mixed in the other's eyes. He lowered his head, looking at his hands.

"Thanks Houge, for covering me."

"What happened out there?"

"I hit the bottom. I stopped caring. But I think I'm on a rebound now. Really. I hope...I hope you can believe me, even after all the things I've done. Maybe even forgive me."

"Only time can forgive Greg. Time and reconciliation."

Greg nodded and looked back at the large Irish man. His eyes were still hurt but the suspicion was gone. Something deeper, hope maybe, shone in them.

"By the way...I got some good news for you. By laws of the Federation, you now own a rather mangled Pirate Carrier. There's not much of it left of course. It's just a big heap of metal and plastic now. It'll cost a lot of money to fix it you know."


"Well...I happen to know a interested buyer. He thinks the hulk could be of some use, maybe even fixable. He'd be willing to offer you one million for it."

"One five."

"Come again?"

Greg smiled toothily at the man, startling him. Then he held up a hand and started to tick off fingers.

"One, the scrap alone of that ship is worth about 50,000. Two, its fighter bays are almost perfectly intact. You could launch fighters from it with no repairs at all. Three, although the engines are half gone, the limited amount of structural attachments in the design means it won't be that much of a job to fix them. Four, all the missile bays are in the nose and that's intact too. Five..."

"Okay already!" Houge said, holding his hands in defeat." You made the point. But now I have to go tell Eamon the new price. That's cold Boy."

Greg blinked slowly. "Yep."

"You know Greg, this is the most you've ever said to me. You're almost talkative suddenly."

Greg closed his eyes, feeling a stab of pain in his chest. Houge saw this and was silent. Finally Greg looked up.

"I have a lot of catching up to do Houge. I owe someone and I mean to make up a lot of things to her. A lot of things."

"Then I wish you luck Greg. I'll get the 1,500,000 into your account. You know if you ever need a friend..."

"I'll look the Wild Geese up. Besides, I always did like New Ireland."

Gregory "Piratesbane" Smith sat in a bar, sipping carefully at a shot glass. The bar was in high swing around him and every so often a person would raise a toast or buy a round. Greg smiled and lifted his drink when needed or joined in a cheer when required. But mostly he watched, trying to remember what it was like to be happy.

"Hey stranger, looks like you could use some company."

Greg looked around and saw a woman in captain's clothing come over. She held a glass in one hand and the other was resting on her jutting hip. Greg smiled carefully and waved a hand to the seat next to him. The woman took it and motioned to the barkeep for a refill.

"So, what brings a guy like you here to our little bar," the woman asked, turning to face him.

"Nothing but the winds of space I guess."

"That's a pretty poetic way of saying you drifted in."

"Well..." Greg offered," I guess I'm a pretty poetic guy."

"And a captain too, I take it. What'd ya' ride in on?"

"Is this a loaded question?"

The woman smiled and offered her hand.

"The names Cora Freeman. I'm getting together a fleet to do some escort work. I'm looking for a mid-sized ship to support me and I saw a rather impressive Mod Starbridge out in the bay that I think is yours. Interested?"

Greg looked her over quickly, noticing for the first time the short blond hair she had thrust up under her cap. He smiled ruefully and took her hand, shaking it firmly.

"Very much so. Just one question, what did YOU ride in on?"

"Now that's a story. You ever heard of a Kestrel Frigate?"

Greg's eyes widened in shock. Flames... There were always...

No. The flames were gone now and it was time to move on.

"Can't say that I have. But I'd love to hear about it."

This story has been based upon the EV Nova Universe and the ATMOS Kestrel story. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it.

(This message has been edited by moderator (edited 06-10-2003).)

Excellent, excellent story. Mucho goodo. 🙂

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Super story Keep em comin'

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/me raises glass

Bloody beautiful. Some spellings were a little off, but whatever.

Me likey.

Man have pity on man


Originally posted by Jas86:
Bloody beautiful. Some spellings were a little off, but whatever.


You should see me without a spell check...BAD!!!

I'm glad everyone likes this story so far. But don't be affraid to tell me about what was bad...

Death is inevitable...
How will you face it?

Piratesbane has always been one of my favorite series in the Chronicles. You want to slap the guy silly sometimes, but Greg is a pretty damn good tortured soul.


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